alaskan seals suffering radiation sickness?

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alaskan seals suffering radiation sickness?

Postby harry ashburn » Wed Dec 28, 2011 8:52 pm

http://arabnews.com/lifestyle/science_t ... 555200.ece





Scientists test sick Alaska seals for radiation


By REUTERS

Published: Dec 29, 2011 00:22 Updated: Dec 29, 2011 00:22

SEATTLE: Scientists in Alaska are investigating whether local seals are being sickened by radiation from Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.


Scores of ring seals have washed up on Alaska’s Arctic coastline since July, suffering or killed by a mysterious disease marked by bleeding lesions on the hind flippers, irritated skin around the nose and eyes and patchy hair loss on the animals’ fur coats.

Biologists at first thought the seals were suffering from a virus, but they have so far been unable to identify one, and tests are now underway to find out if radiation is a factor.

“We recently received samples of seal tissue from diseased animals captured near St. Lawrence Island with a request to examine the material for radioactivity,” said John Kelley, Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Marine Science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

“There is concern expressed by some members of the local communities that there may be some relationship to the Fukushima nuclear reactor’s damage,” he said.

The results of the tests would not be available for “several weeks,” Kelley said.

Water tests have not picked up any evidence of elevated radiation in US Pacific waters since the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which caused multiple fuel meltdowns at the Fukushima plant and forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate the surrounding area.

Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the US Fish and Wildlife Service have been seeking the cause of the diseased seals for weeks, but have so far found no answers.
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Re: alaskan seals suffering radiation sickness?

Postby harry ashburn » Sat Apr 07, 2012 10:50 pm

UPDATE:
USGS: Some Alaska Polar Bears Losing Their Fur
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: April 7, 2012 at 7:08 PM ET

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska polar bears are losing their fur and U.S. Geological Survey scientists don't know why.

In the past two weeks, nine of 33 bears checked by scientists in the southern Beaufort Sea region near Barrow were found to have alopecia — loss of fur — and skin lesions, said Tony DeGange, chief of the biology office at the USGS Science Center in Anchorage.

Three of four bears inspected Thursday near Kaktovik showed the symptoms as well.

Scientists have been collecting blood and tissue samples from the afflicted bears, but they do not know the cause or the significance of the outbreak, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

"Our data set suggests that this is unusual but not unprecedented," DeGange said. Ten of 48 bears checked by the team in 1998-99 had a similar condition, he said.

In a long-standing project, the USGS has sent polar bear research teams to the area since 1984. The teams track, sedate and examine the bears to help determine their general health and habits.

This year they saw their first bear with hair loss on March 21. The team will wind up this year's operations in May when the sea ice becomes too treacherous for safe travel.

In December, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared an "unusual mortality event" based on a number of ringed seals hauled out on beaches on the Arctic coast of Alaska during the summer. Dead and dying seals were found to have hair loss and skin sores.

Affected seals were later observed in Canada and Russia.

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2012/04 ... 1&ref=news
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